In The Know: Gov wants to consolidate Oklahoma’s higher education institutions | Lawsuit: Taxpayers owe Swadley’s $2.6 million | Bill to limit virtual school days sparks debate

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Oklahoma News

Stitt calls for higher education consolidation. What could that look like in Oklahoma?: Gov. Kevin Stitt caught some lawmakers off guard Monday when he called for consolidating public colleges and universities in his State of the State speech. Stitt offered few specific details in his speech except to say he wants to see legislation that incentivizes higher education models that fulfill state workforce needs. Colleges that aren’t meeting those demands should be consolidated, he said. [Oklahoma Voice]

State Government News

What to know about Gov. Kevin Stitt’s proposed budget — and why it might be a tough sell: Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt’s budget can easily be described in one word: flat — the same spending and a tax cut. But don’t expect state lawmakers to embrace it. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma taxpayers owe Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen nearly $2.6 million, legal filing says: The State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department in April 2022 sued Swadley’s for breach of contract stemming from its remodeling of six restaurants in state parks. After Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the lawsuit and the resignation of the agency’s director, Jerry Winchester, Swadley’s countersued. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • Oklahoma owes $2.5 million, Swadley’s says after ‘Tourism scandal’ [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to restart massive ACCESS improvement project: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday announced it was pushing forward with a $5 billion statewide project after it was put on hold due to legal challenges. [Oklahoma Voice]

  • ACCESS Oklahoma construction starts next week with Turner Turnpike widening [The Oklahoman]

New initiative brings weekly Christian worship service to Oklahoma Capitol: The gathering had all the hallmarks of a weekly church worship service — attendees sung praise and worship songs, a minister gave a brief sermon, personal testimonies were shared and participants prayed together. Except, the service on Monday was held in the statehouse not a church house. It was the inaugural My God Votes Capitol Worship Service at the state Capitol. [The Oklahoman]

Opinion: If the Oklahoma way is to look out for one another, why are politicians casting people out?: I am currently working to help my fellow veterans with their struggles with PTSD, homelessness and anything else I can do to help better their lives. As a combat veteran that fought in the War on Terrorism, completing four different combat tours, you would think these same politicians would want my vote, but I am a transgender person, and this legislative body has already placed multiple bills that would erase transgender people’s civil protections within this state. [Casey Fox / The Oklahoman]

Health News

Multiple Oklahoma bills seek to bring free menstrual products to schools: Two in 5 American women struggle to afford period products, and a third of low-income women have reported missing school, work or similar commitments because of this lack of access, according to the Alliance for Period Supplies. [Oklahoma Voice]

American Lung Association report recommends tobacco use policy improvements in Oklahoma: The American Lung Association released its annual State of Tobacco Control report, including recommendations on how states like Oklahoma can eliminate tobacco deaths. [KGOU]

Criminal Justice News

Parole Board Approves Revised Commutation Eligibility Requirements: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously on Monday to implement a waiting period for state prisoners to argue their sentence is unjust or excessive. [Oklahoma Watch]

Massive Cockfighting Derby Discovered in Oklahoma: Only two days before the Oklahoma Legislature convenes in Oklahoma City for the second half of the 59th legislative session, more than 100 cockfighters gathered at a metal building in a remote area of Adair County. They engaged in eight hours of cockfighting and unregulated gambling, both of which are felonies in Oklahoma. [The Black Wall Street Times]

Housing & Economic Opportunity

Report shows livable wage in Oklahoma is $26.97 an hour – State says average wage is $29.50 an hour: Currently, the Oklahoma State Supreme Court is determining if voters will be able to decide whether or not to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour. It comes as new data from ZipRecruiter shows the average livable wage in Oklahoma is $56,102 – just under $27 an hour. [KFOR]

Education News

Oklahoma bill limiting virtual days sparks ardent debate in Senate Education Committee: A Senate bill presented in a committee Tuesday would increase virtual learning day qualifiers for public and charter schools. The Senate Committee on Education heard 14 bills Tuesday morning. Among bills passed through the committee was legislation designed to increase requirements for virtual school days and decrease cell phone use in classrooms. [Journal Record]

  • Oklahoma lawmakers debate limiting virtual school days except during emergencies [KOSU]

Proposal for phone-free school program passes Senate panel: Lockboxes for students’ smartphones could be coming to some Oklahoma public schools after a measure sponsored by state Sen. Ally Seifried, R-Claremore, passed Tuesday in committee. [Tulsa World]

General News

Community event to focus on possible reparations after Tulsa Race Massacre: A community meeting will be held Thursday night to review and discuss the results of the Beyond Apology report on possible avenues for providing reparations and repair to individuals harmed by the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Local News

  • OKCPS District 4: Trio of candidates vie for open seat [NonDoc]
  • Jeff Arvin, Mark Hamm face off Tuesday to become Moore’s next mayor [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“When you’re in prison, a lot of times it feels like you don’t have a voice. So to come out there and have people like the Parole Board listen and take what I have to say as valuable, that is an amazing feeling.”

– Kara Chapman, a recent commutation recipient who spoke during the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board public comment hearing last month, encouraging the board to strike a proposed rule change that would’ve made it harder for justice-involved Oklahomans to seek commutation of their sentences. [Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma’s gross receipts to the state treasury were down 3.2%, or $555 million, for the 12-month period ending January 2024. Declining tax revenue from oil and gas production continues to push total gross receipts revenues down. [Oklahoma State Treasurer’s Office]

Policy Note

Better Planning Could Help States Avoid Perilous Deficits: States can use data and analysis to prepare for fiscal crises or prevent them entirely, helping to avoid tax increases and service cuts that harm residents and local economies. Research shows that since the start of 2018, only 15 states have published long-term budget assessments. Another 15 have published long-term revenue and spending projections, but do not use the projections to determine whether their budget is on a sustainable path — or discuss the reasons behind that conclusion. [Governing]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


Annie Taylor joined OK Policy as a Digital Communications Associate/Storybanker in April 2022. She studied journalism and mass communication at the University of Oklahoma, and was a member of the Native American Journalists Association. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications from the University of Central Oklahoma. While pursuing her degree, she worked in restaurant and retail management, as well as freelance copywriting and digital content production. Annie is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, and holds a deep reverence for storytelling in the digital age. She was born and raised in southeast Oklahoma, and now lives in Oklahoma City with her dog, Melvin.